Friday, September 19, 2014
Donors will fail Gaza again
By Nicola Nasser*
On 12 October,
is due to host a conference, sponsored and chaired by Egypt and Norway,
of international and Arab donors for the reconstruction of . This is their ostensible aim. But the
reasons that the donors cited for not fulfilling earlier pledges, made in Paris
in 2007 and Sharm El-Sheikh in 2009, still exist. Gaza
This means that the donors who attend the upcoming
conference will probably make the same pledges they made at the two previous
conferences and then once again fail to fulfil them. Cairo
Meanwhile, the Palestinian people under blockade in
Fulfilment of the donors’ old/new pledges is still contingent politically on the imposition of the status quo in the West Bank on
Even should these conditions be met, the donors’ fulfilment of their pledges will remain contingent on the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) continued commitment to negotiations as its sole strategy, and to the agreements that led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
All the evidence indicates that the PLO and the PA have spearheaded the battle to impose the donors’ conditions on their behalf. Beneath the rubric of “legitimacy”, “the national project” and “the single central authority” that “alone holds the powers to make decisions on war and peace,” the PLO and PA have demonstrated that they are ready to abide by the donors’ political conditions.
The irony is that
has never met the conditions it compelled the donors to impose, not just in
order to proceed with the reconstruction of , but also on the PA in general. Gaza
Currently, the occupation authorities are threatening to dissolve the Palestinian national reconciliation government if it does not assert its full authority over
However, all the evidence also indicates that the resistance is there to stay in
The only possible way to read all of the foregoing, and other facts, is that the reconstruction of Gaza under such conditions and circumstances will be deferred until further notice and that deferring reconstruction and linking it to a process of cloning the West Bank model in Gaza is actually a strategy that paves the way for yet another invasion of Gaza.
It is also a fact that reconstruction needs in
A recent report by the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) estimates that it will cost around $8 billion to rebuild what was destroyed during the last Israeli attack on
Clearly, the reconstruction of Gaza requires a new Palestinian strategy, one that draws a line between the grants donors offer and their political conditions, and that rejects once and for all any Palestinian commitment to those degrading conditions that, as the years since the so-called “peace process” began have proven, have brought more destruction than construction, and have served as the chief incubator of Palestinian divisions and not brought even a minimum degree of national benefit.
At the same time, any new government that emerges from a national partnership must embrace resistance against the occupation. The current national reconciliation government, with its six-month term and its principle tasks of preparing for presidential and legislative elections, is by definition an interim government and is not qualified to shoulder heavy and long-term burdens such as the reconstruction of Gaza and securing the end of the blockade.
Both of these tasks are humanitarian and national goals that are higher than any political or factional disputes. Yet the Palestinian presidency’s determination to toe the line with the donors’ conditions, which make no distinction between humanitarian needs and political ends, is a strategy that fails to discriminate between national needs and factional interests. It is a strategy that protracts the humanitarian disaster in
Unfortunately, the need to separate politics — factional or otherwise — from the humanitarian issue does not appear to be on the agenda of either foreign and Arab donors, or of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in spite of the letter he sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on 30 July declaring Gaza a “disaster zone” in the grips of a “dangerous humanitarian crisis.”
This “dangerous humanitarian crisis” is the product of forms of collective punishment that were inflicted against the people of
The collective punishments that have been and continue to be visited on
To insist that Gaza’s reconstruction be linked to the reinstatement of the “full” authority of the Palestinian presidency and the PA over Gaza, and to the donors’ political conditions which, in fact, are the conditions of the occupying power, is merely another way to say that the reconstruction of Gaza should be linked to the imposition of Fatah’s factional agenda on Gaza.
It also means that civilians in Gaza are to be collectively punished for the factional disputes that Fatah has with Hamas, in which case it becomes very difficult to avoid pointing fingers of accusation at Palestinian complicity in the ongoing collective punishment of the people of Gaza, and more difficult yet to defend any possible Palestinian contribution to the perpetration of such a war crime.
As long as the current situation persists, reconstruction of
It is not too late to opt for the national alternative, which is still available given good intentions, to save the people of
This alternative entails following through on implementation of the mechanisms for national reconciliation, activating the unified command framework for the PLO, agreeing on a new Palestinian strategy based on the principles of partnership and resistance, and creating a new national unity government committed to this strategy and qualified to shoulder such enormous tasks as the reconstruction of Gaza and lifting the blockade.
All of the foregoing requires no more than honest introspection, the prevalence of national conscience, and political free will.
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This article was first published and translated from Arabic by Al-Ahram Weekly on September 19, 2014.